HomeOTHERAston Villa (NN)Examining McLeish’s style | Aston Villa

Examining McLeish’s style | Aston Villa

Aston Villa fans were very much against the appointment of Alex McLeish; not only had the Glaswegian managed of arch-rivals Birmingham, his style of play at St. Andrews had come under much criticism for being boring and negative.

The stats back this up to an extent, last season Birmingham had the fifth-worst pass completion in the league, and played more long balls per game than any other team in the division.

Their average possession wasn’t great either – fifth-lowest in the league again – and in the end their terrible goal return led to relegation.

Things weren’t fantastic at Aston Villa though either last season. A late surge concealed a thoroughly disappointing season. The football, whilst more watchable than their neighbour’s, wasn’t particularly eye-catching either.

So what has McLeish done at Aston Villa, style-wise? Averaging out one and a bit seasons worth of data, I’ve picked out a few key numbers:

Possession and long balls have decreased, pass completion has remained constant. It’s difficult to conclusively assess the difference yet, though there are suggestions that the differences to the former two are statistically significant.

Villa fans could probably take less of the ball if results improve on last season, but successive defeats – particularly at home to West Brom – means the fans may get on McLeish’s back once again.

The long ball metric is slightly more complex. Fans can probably take well-directed and thoughtful long balls, but will reignite criticisms should aimlessness creep into Villa’s play. Unfortunately, the level of this is unobservable in the data.

It’s early days, but there’s nothing yet to suggest McLeish intends to change a style that has proved effective in the past. Now it’s time to see if the results follow.

Omar Chaudhuri
Omar Chaudhurihttp://5addedminutes.wordpress.com/
Economics student, football-obsessed & creator of 5 Added Minutes.
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